I’ve been married for 30 years. For the first 15 years of my  marriage, I did not know how to be a good spouse and my relationship with my wife was going downhill. Many of my friends’ marriages ended up in divorce and I feared we were headed in the same direction. 

Just when it could have taken a dive for the worse, I read the book Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus. And the truth is, it saved our marriage. Up until I read it, I literally thought my wife was insane. Everytime something bothered her, I would offer up a solution and try to fix it. Not only did she not appreciate my trying to fix the things that bothered her, she thought I was uncaring for offering solutions! While my wife and I share the same core values, the way we think about things was (and still is) very very different. She would want me to ‘understand’ her problems. To me, understanding meant figure it out – solve it – so the problems go away. For her, understanding meant sitting and empathizing with her. But she never said “sit and empathize”, she said “understand”. For the life of me, I couldn’t comprehend why she would get mad at me for fixing whatever it was that bothered her, or why she kept rejecting my solutions, saying that I didn’t understand when clearly I thought I did. Not only did I understand the problem I even came up with a solution! I really thought she was nuts!

We then discovered the book Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus, and it completely changed the way we thought. The book helps you improve your relationships by identifying the key differences between men and women. And understanding our different needs and how to communicate better is what saved our marriage. We were essentially speaking a different language. If only I had known that to most women, the word “understand” meant, “empathize” not “problem solve”, the first 15 years of our marriage would have been much much smoother.

That is why I feel so strongly about the importance and value for the bride and groom to have proper hadracha (guidance) to prepare them for marriage. This means having proper hatan or kallah courses with a teacher. For better or for worse – really, just for worse – when I was getting married all I was taught in that context were halachot (laws). Not even really taught. I knew how to learn, so when I went to the Rosh Yeshiva before my wedding, he jotted down a bunch of dates on a piece of paper, handed me a calendar that was sitting on his desk, and asked me to figure out the onot. When I did, he pointed out one I missed, asked if I understood, and dismissed me as good to go. That was it! There was no real “hadracha”. Nothing about how to understand or love the person I would be getting married to, or how to be a good husband. Nothing about sex/intimacy (except when it’s forbidden). Nothing whatsoever about how to live as a married couple. It’s a wonder and a gift from Hashem we managed to stay together for 15 years before finding the book Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus.

At The Eden Center, the situation is just the opposite. In the hatan teacher course I took (and I know it’s similar in the training for kallah teachers) we were trained in how to prepare the bride and groom for the most important relationship they will ever have. From understanding love languages to primers on financial decisions, from discussing birth control to postpartum depression, listening skills, anatomy, communication, how to love, how to fight fair and how to avoid fighting, you prepare people in how to be healthy, happy, supportive spouses. That is hadracha. By properly teaching men how to be husbands and women how to be wives. That is the direction we need to be going in, and The Eden Center is leading the way.

Kol haKavod to Dr. Naomi Grumet and to Dr. Rabbi Dan Jacobson. There is no question in my mind that the holy work you do is responsible for hundreds of thousands of happy marriages around the world.

If you are interested in becoming a hatan teacher like Mordechai and want to learn how to give proper hadracha, then consider participating in our upcoming Hatan Teacher or Kallah Teacher courses.